Belfast Telegraph

Horror in a leafy cul-de-sac as man is murdered and his wife wounded by knife attacker

Detectives question couple’s 26-year-old son over killing

By Chris Kilpatrick

The wife of a man stabbed to death in his home was last night in a stable condition in hospital as police continued to question their son over the attack.

John and Elizabeth Lamont were set upon in their home at Carnvale, just off the Carniny Road in Ballymena.

It is understood an assailant stabbed the couple inside the property early yesterday.

Mr Lamont (64) stumbled out of the house before collapsing in his front garden.

His wife (59) sustained serious injuries and was found inside the property by paramedics.

She was rushed to Antrim Area Hospital, where her condition last night was described as stable.

A 26-year-old man — understood to be the couple’s son Gregory — was arrested at the scene.

He was being questioned by PSNI detectives last night on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.

Gregory Lamont had recently worked as a hospital porter and was said to have told friends he had become a Christian before Christmas.

It is understood that Gregory had been staying with his parents.

Throughout yesterday the cul-de-sac in which the family lived was sealed off by police.

A large screen covered the front of the property as forensic experts gathered evidence from the scene.

Family members called at the home just before lunchtime. They declined to comment.

Mr Lamont, who was originally from Portglenone, outside Ballymena, was a keen Ballymena United FC fan and a member of Milltown Accordion Band.

Neighbours said he retired

within the past year, having worked as a technician at Aldergrove in Antrim.

The couple moved into the area more than 20 years ago.

Ballymena UUP councillor James McClean, who lives nearby, said he had spoken with Mr Lamont on the day before he was killed.

He said he had known him for more than 10 years and was stunned by his death.

“I knew him well,” said Mr McClean.

“Yesterday we had been talking about Ballymena United as he was a big fan and went to all the home games. Him and his wife were always out walking their dog. He was a quiet man and well-liked,” he added.

“It’s tragic. The whole community is devastated.”

UUP MLA Robin Swann said the incident had caused shock throughout the area, describing such events as very rare.

He added: “I would like to extend my sympathies to the family of the man who died in Ballymena — and also appeal for anyone who can assist the police to come forward immediately.”

They were inseparable and always stopped for a chat

By Chris Kilpatrick

“This is the last place on earth you would expect this sort of thing to happen.”

The words of one disbelieving neighbour who was still struggling to come to terms with the shocking scene before him when he drew back his curtains an hour earlier.

For more than three decades the man had looked out on the small cul-de-sac of pristine white bungalows.

Yesterday morning, residents woke to a polar opposite scene to the tranquil surroundings they are accustomed to.

Thick red tape and marked police cars blocked off the entrance to Carnvale estate.

Behind them forensic experts, dressed head to toe in white overalls, made their way towards the semi-detached bungalow, the front of which was sealed off from the glare of curious passers-by by a large blue screen.

A white tent had been erected in the front garden of the property where John Lamont had fallen hours previously, having been stabbed by a man who also targeted his wife Elizabeth in their home.

Just a few months ago the same garden provided the backdrop for pictures Elizabeth posted on her Facebook page of her smiling husband sitting in a sports car he bought his wife for her birthday.

Taking it on trips to the north coast was one of the many perks John was savouring in his recently acquired abundance of spare time, having retired from his job at Aldergrove in Antrim.

Neighbours said the couple were inseparable, walking their dog each morning around the quiet, respectable area in which they lived.

“They wouldn’t pass you without stopping for a chat,” one said. “I only know them by their first names even though we’re

neighbours but that’s the way it is round here.

“Most people are middle-aged or older and people keep themselves to themselves.

“But John and Elizabeth are very friendly. We’ve only ever had the odd burglary round here, nothing serious.

“To be honest this is the last place in the world you would expect this sort of thing to happen.”

Another neighbour, who remembers the couple moving into Carnvale, said residents were reeling from news of the murder. Herbie Park, whose house faces the Lamont family home, added: “It’s terrible, you just can’t take it in.”

Ballymena — like most other large towns — has had its share of problems over the years. This area, however, had remained unscathed.

The bemused expressions of scores of motorists passing the scene yesterday spoke volumes of the unlikely setting of Carnvale for such a savage incident.

What has always been regarded as an idyllic residential area is now tainted by the darkest of crimes.

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